Napa Children Still Feeling Effects of August Quake

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NAPA-

Napa is a city known for its tourism, exceptional wine and strong community ties.

On Aug. 24, residents of the city learned just how close and resilient they really are.

"My first reaction was that I felt really unprepared. I did not know if I should get up and go through the doorway or if I should crawl under something," quake victim Karma Fisher said.

Around 3:20 a.m., Fisher was at home asleep when she felt of the jolt of the magnitude 6.0 earthquake.

It lasted 20 seconds.

"We have these huge paintings that sit on the back bookshelf and they started falling on the couch and then glass started going everywhere. My mom had to come and free me out from under the paintings once the earthquake was over. There was glass everywhere and we were both everywhere," said Fisher.

Her brother, Ronin was trapped in his bedroom.

"Everything was on the ground. The fish, some of the tanks were broken and they were flopping on the ground," said Ronin. "I got a little bit scared and then it did not really affect me overall."

Months later, Ronin struggles with the memories of that day.

"He is a little more flat in his emotions since this happened. I think that will come around in time. I think that is how he deals with trauma," said Ronin's mother, Amanda Fisher.

For Karma, the wounds were more visible.

She experienced vomiting and insomnia. To this day, around 3 a.m., she wakes up.

"I actually threw up twice after the earthquake because of how much anxiety and how upset I made myself. I probably did not sleep for four days after the earthquake," said Karma.

At Aldea Children and Family Services, therapist Jim Deal says those reactions are typical and children are no different.

The local non-profit treated 176 people after the quake.

"What people experienced were pretty classic symptoms for trauma from a major event sleeplessness, anxiety, difficulty getting away from areas of safety or perceived safety," said Diel. "Small children did not want to get away from their mom or so forth."

Overtime, those symptoms can lead to more headaches and stomach aches.

To help kids cope, the organization worked with them by using toys and allowing them to talk about their emotions.

"Basically you teach coping skills, normalize their emotions," said Diel.

Art therapy helped too.

One girl drew a picture of her two story apartment complex.

She painted lines across the second floor where she was sleeping to represent the shaking.

It took several weeks for the young girl to stop talking about the quake.

However, Diel says most children saw major improvements in their behavior in about three sessions.

"Really understanding that these are normal responses," said Diel. "They do not last a lifetime for the vast majority of people."

In Napa, the signs of the quake are still everywhere.

It is the strong bond between neighbors that is helping the city rebuild.

"We have always been close, but we just walk into each others houses now," said Amanda Fisher.

Helping each other toward healing the wounds both seen and unseen.

"None of us had clean water. There was one working bathroom. There was one working shower," said Karma Fisher. "We were all in each others houses. We helped each other clean up. It was a great community. I think that it bonded us.

Today, less than five percent of children treated at Aldea are showing signs of trauma since the quake.

With time, Diel say, even the most shaken children will fully recover.